I know this is a controversial subject, but after reading some press releases by some so-called prominent lawyers, I refuse to remain silent.
“I think he will end up settling,” said Greg Bloom, an attorney at the Miami firm Chase Lawyers, which represents athletes and entertainers, said of Tony Stewart and the potential outcome of the civil case following Kevin Ward, Jr.’s death in Canandaigua, N.Y., reports Beyond the Flag. “If I was to advise him, I would advise the same because he wants everything to be behind him. Everyone wants this whole story to be behind him, so he can move forward professionally and the memory of the deceased can rest.”
John M. Hochfelder, a New York lawyer who runs a blog and database on injury case damages in New York, said, “All the (criminal) acquittal means is that the prosecution did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt, according to the jury, that a crime was committed. That standard is much, much higher than the civil standard, which is a preponderance of the evidence, a tipping of the scales. We call it ‘the more likely than not’ standard. … (In this case), it’s more likely than not that you should have been more careful and your lack of care, we conclude, caused an injury.”
And another shark, Michael McCann, a Massachusetts attorney who founded the University of New Hampshire’s Sports and Entertainment Law Institute: “The likelihood that Tony Stewart reaches an adequate settlement is very high. He has reason to settle a case like this even if he believes he did nothing wrong.”
This kind of bullcrap is one of the biggest problems with our country today.
The following is how I, if I’d have had the motivation to actually become a lawyer – and a very good one at that, I might add – would advise or tell the parties involved.
To the Family of Kevin Ward, Jr.
I am truly saddened and sorry for your tragic loss. No parent should outlive their children and have to suffer through the agony of losing one. It is not how the nature of life is supposed to go. Unfortunately, life does not always play by our rules and tragic things like this happen. My thoughts and prayers go out to you.
That being said, it is time to face the reality of the situation. Evidence, along with a grand jury of common folk such as you and me, shows that the death of your son was nothing more than an accident. Not only does the grand jury believe this but more importantly, but millions of racing fans do as well – even most of the ones who dislike Tony Stewart. Not only that, but we all felt that way before it was released to the general public that Kevin had marijuana in his system.
Here is a point I would like to stress: I do not believe you son was under the influence of pot at the time of his death. Just because it was in his system does not mean he was high, as any pot smoker – myself included at his age – knows and will tell you. The pot issue, as far as I am concerned, is a non-issue.
This may be hard to hear but the simple and only reason your son is dead is because he suffered a serious lack of judgment in an emotional situation (a sporting event no less) and did something very, very stupid. It sucks but that is the truth, especially considering the sport in which he was participating.
Now, after all that, I would advise careful consideration if you are thinking of filing a wrongful death civil suit against Tony Stewart.
First of all, it truly comes off as just a ploy for money – not, as one of the lawyers called it, “and the memory of the deceased can rest.” That is simple hogwash. No, it’s not “fair” that your son is dead but life doesn’t play fair, as we all know.
If I had been sitting in that seat and I’d been the one who hit your son, you sure as heck would not be thinking of suing me. Why? Because I got nothing! Tony Stewart is famous and has lots of money. Any suit against him in this case, especially in light of what Kevin did and other facts that have since been released (whether relevant or not, i.e. the toxicology report) will do nothing to positively further the memory of your son among the general populace.
And furthermore, while I am sure that you are still reeling from your loss emotionally, you know deep down that what I am saying here is true.
Now, on the other hand, should Tony Stewart reach out to you, and offer you some type of monetary compensation for your loss, simply out of the goodness of his heart and because he has the means to do so, without the threat of a lawsuit, well, that is something else and no one would begrudge you that. But again, that is without the threat of a lawsuit.
Any threat of a lawsuit, in the eyes of the public, will be seen as nothing more than the exploitation of the rich and famous person who happened to hit your son, and nothing more.
I know, life sometimes sucks. We all have to live it.
Again, my thoughts and prayers truly with you.
And now, to Tony Stewart.
We all know it was an accident. It is hard for most of us to imagine what you have and are possibly still going through.
Please, despite what lawyers may tell you, if there is a lawsuit or the threat of one, don’t pay out one thin dime. Take it to the jury. Surely you have enough money to hire one as smart or as good as I would have been.
If, as a certain lawyer alluded to, you are worried about your reputation, don’t be. The public knows the truth.
The best thing – and this is strictly up to you, of course – I would advise that you reach out to the Wards, with no lawyers involved (if you haven’t already done so), and come to some agreeable reconciliation, simply because you have the means to do so.
As I expressed to the Wards, if it was me that had been in that race car, all I would be able to offer is a woefully inadequate apology and my prayers and any other help, again however inadequate, that I could. You, however, have the means to change their lives out of the goodness (and sadness) of your heart.
But again, it has to be a genuine gesture to be offered (and accepted) without any coercion from the threat of lawsuits, lawyers, the media or anyone else other than Tony Stewart and the Ward family.
That is how you save a reputation and also honor the memory of Kevin Ward, Jr.
Stay off the wall,